Interview 3AW - PaTH

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia



TOM ELLIOTT:      Appropriately our next guest is the Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash. Good afternoon.

MINISTER CASH:     Good afternoon Tom, and good afternoon to your listeners.

TOM ELLIOTT:      Hey just quickly, I know the Budget’s not strictly speaking your bailiwick, but there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about super. I mean, people aren’t just supposed to live off the earnings, they’re supposed to draw down on both the capital and the earnings aren’t they?

MINISTER CASH:     Sorry, I missed that sorry. Someone just came into my office …

TOM ELLIOTT:      [Interrupts] Oh, just- don’t worry about it. Look, let’s talk about this new Work for the Dole shakeup. Now, I was intrigued to hear Scott Morrison talking about this last night; he said it was the PaTH program – prepare, trial, hire – and the idea is, I believe, that you take young people who are unemployed and put them through some sort of government-run course so they come out job-ready, ready for work. How does it work?

MINISTER CASH:     Okay. This is all about creating a path to real jobs for young people. So it’s a three-stage pathway; it’s getting them ready, giving them a go, and getting them into a job. So basically what we’re doing is in the first stage, the prepare stage, we’re going to give young people the employability skills training that, based on all of the evidence, we know that they need. So many of our young people don’t basically know how to, you know, dress to go to work, they don’t know the attitudes they need in the workplace. Many of them don’t even know how to properly use a computer. So what we’ll do is …

TOM ELLIOTT:      [Interrupts] What? I thought all young people were sort of born with a computer.

MINISTER CASH:     I think that they might know how to play games on a computer, but maybe not use it appropriately in a workplace. So it’s very much looking at how do we ensure that you have those employability skills training, the IT literacy, et cetera, and then focussing on job preparation …

TOM ELLIOTT:      [Interrupts] Just- sorry, can I go back to what you said about getting dressed properly. I mean, for example, a lot of kids these days can’t tie shoelaces and they wear Velcro shoes, and that’s not a good look in the workplace. Tying a tie, is that a lost skill?

MINISTER CASH:     Let’s just call it generally dressing for the workplace. You know, it is one of those serious things. You’ve got to remember, these are people who probably haven’t had a job before, they’re on welfare and they need to get that foot in the door. We just can’t, as a Government, as a society, simply afford to let young Australians fall into the trap of long-term unemployment and welfare dependency.

TOM ELLIOTT:      Okay, so stage one is get up on time, have a shower, get yourself dressed properly, turn up to work at the appropriate time.

MINISTER CASH:     [Indistinct] starting your career development, interview skills, things like that. Now after that we’ve got the internship stage, or the trialling stage. So we will be working- or your job provider will work with you as an individual and the business or the employer who is going to offer you the position – and the position has to be a genuine position within the organisation – and they will tailor a package that suits both the employer and the job seeker, and then the internship can go for between four and 12 weeks in duration, from between 15 and 25 hours per week. Now, just in terms of the payment, the job seeker remains on income support, so they still get that payment, but as an incentive we will be paying them an additional $200 per fortnight as an incentive …

TOM ELLIOTT:      [Interrupts] So wait a minute, so they get the dole plus 200 bucks, but the employer doesn’t pay anything?

MINISTER CASH:     No. The employer at this stage- that’s exactly right, because what this is all about is saying to employers we want you to try these young people, but we are prepared to invest in them so you’re not taking a risk. Because a lot of the businesses that we’re going to be working with are small businesses; they can’t necessarily take the risk on someone that they don’t know anything about and doesn’t have the skills. So the Government will give you the pre-employment training, the internship, and then after four to 12 weeks if the employer says this is fantastic, this young person is exactly what I was looking for, we obviously will hope they will offer them a full-time job, at which point in time the employer can access what is called a youth bonus wage subsidy. So over a six month period they can access between $6500 and $10,000. So it’s very exciting, as I said, getting them ready, giving them a go, getting them into a job, because look, on my side of politics we genuinely believe the best form of welfare is a job, and that’s what we’re all about, and this is a significant $840 million commitment to the youth of Australia.

TOM ELLIOTT:      So do these employers who take on these trainees in the trial stage, do they sign up with the Federal Government and say we are prepared to take 20 trainees to work in our call centre, or something like that?

MINISTER CASH:    We are working through all the details, but what we will be doing is we will be working with interested employers and jobactive providers. And the jobactive providers – so they’re already in place, obviously – will be placing the young people through the internship program. There will obviously be very strict regulation around this, in particular the position has to be a genuine position. The Department is going to monitor this very, very carefully because we do not want displacement obviously, and anyone who is found to be utilising the program inappropriately will be banned from using the program. So I say that straight out to your listeners: employers who exploit the program will be banned from using it. So the program is designed to limit displacement, we will set a maximum duration of the internship up to 12 weeks, and a maximum number of the weekly hours worked for the placement as well. But again …

TOM ELLIOTT:      [Interrupts] Okay, one more question. I work with a number of Gen Y people, and by and large their attendance at work is spotty at best; they don’t take instructions very well, they want an instant promotion just two or three weeks after starting work. Will you knock out some of this attitude out of these younger people?

MINISTER CASH:     Okay, and that is exactly why it’s a three stage program. We recognise in the first instance that many of our youth do not have that pre-employment training. So this is all about that two blocks of three weeks, up to 25 hours a week, giving them the employability skills training. Even just a focus on what’s it like to work in a team, presentation, communication, punctuality. We will ensure that they undertake that training so when they take that next exciting step into the internship it’s a positive experience for everybody involved, because what we want as a Government is for this to lead to another person leaving the dependency of welfare and getting a job.

TOM ELLIOTT:      Well said. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment and Women. Thank you very much for your time.

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